Stacie Jean Albano: HONORING LORETTA | Visual arts | Savannah News, Events, Restaurants, Music

I meet the vivacious and talkative Stacie Jean Albano in her stuffed-to-the-gills home studio in Savannah’s Parkside neighborhood.

A text read: “Let’s do Tuesday. Mondays are always a little grumpy because I have to get used to getting up at 6am after the weekend (I don’t want too many swear words in the article). Another warned me, “This is the house of clutter, and we go through almost every room (which ranges from clean to not so clean, to full show) on the way to my studio.”

Such is the life of a full-time entertainer, caregiver, and mom to 14- and 11-year-old boys.

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Albano Community Beach Fort at Orient Point, 2019

As we indeed navigate the clutter (more on that later) and enter his small studio, my eyes are immediately drawn to a vaguely rendered landscape, his signature terracotta red underlay peeking through.

It’s the genre Albano is best known for through frequent group shows with her good friend Peter Roberts at the Location Gallery and through her inclusion in Carmen Aguirre’s impressive stable of artists at the Mansion on Forsyth Park’s Grand Bohemian Gallery.

His cityscapes and landscapes are usually very gestural, the strokes of acrylic paint visible in bright colors against the vibrant underpainting. Sometimes they become less impressionistic and more abstract as she breaks the surface down into planes and segments of color.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Albano came to Savannah in the early 90s to attend SCAD and graduated magna cum laude with BFAs in illustration and painting.

After graduating, she sold her landscapes through sales at Café Metropole (now home to The Grey) and regular exhibitions at Gallery Espresso, while waiting for tables at Vinnie Van GoGo to complement her sporadic income.

The landscape that I admire first is that of Orient Point, at the very end of the North Fork of Long Island.

“Just to be completely immersed in this environment, how not to paint it? But I usually don’t say where they are, preferring the viewer to see what they want to see. Orient Park is where Albano and his sister spent each idyllic summer, rising early to get some beach drink while his grandfather started his Italian sauce.

Click to enlarge Watercolor

Watercolor “Texas Tarragon”

Sold after the death of his grandmother, the property was bought by the daughters of the family some 15 years ago, and now Albano and his two boys spend three weeks every summer in this heavenly part of the world. (In addition to providing endless inspiration for his paintings, the beaches of Long Island Sound produce driftwood for his impressive annual beach fort adorned with artwork from neighborhood kids.)

Art has always nourished Albano’s soul. Throughout elementary school and beyond, she was heavily influenced by her Aunt Loretta and Uncle Kenny who had both dated Pratt.

They ran a thriving book illustration business, and their home in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey was filled with amazing artwork and a phenomenal book collection.

Albano is also very musical: “We have tons of instruments and I try to play them all. After SCAD, I took cello lessons for three years with the 2nd President of the Savannah Orchestra before making a conscious decision to really focus on my art.

Last spring, her aunt Loretta, now a widow, fell and broke her hip. Her dementia was getting worse and she needed full-time care.

Besides running the successful illustration company, Loretta was a potter, organic gardener, painter, and art enthusiast, and Albano adores her. She and her sister shared the daunting task of packing up Loretta’s house in just three days and moving her to a facility in Savannah where she can receive daily visits.

Click to enlarge A glimpse of Albano's home studio

A glimpse of Albano’s home studio

In his brisk Long Island accent, Albano points in one direction and says, “My sister lives three blocks away.

Pointing in the other direction, she said, “My mother lives three blocks away. I see her every day. I love my mother. Put that in the article because she’ll kill me if you don’t.

“After Loretta moved in, and before we decided what went where, my house was totally filled with her furniture and possessions,” Albano continues. “I couldn’t even get into my studio and the only art supplies I had access to were my aunt’s travel watercolor sets. I started painting and posting on Facebook and Instagram and people had a really good reaction.

So much so that Carmen Aguirre of the Grand Bohemian Gallery at Le Manoir approached her to organize an exhibition of works on paper. She pulls out a heavy spray of watercolors of varying sizes – all of brightly colored flowers. Not a sight in sight.

Painting floral watercolors while her house was jam-packed with her aunt’s belongings “was cathartic after everything we had been through,” Albano says. “It was a time when I didn’t think about problems. A time when I could feel the connection with my aunt. She and my uncle had an amazing garden, and these are all pictures from her extensive collection of gardening notes .

She continues, “My uncle has laid out beautiful raised beds with interconnecting brick walkways. In addition to flowers, they grew cabbage, artichokes, Asian pears, strawberries, anything you can imagine. All organic.

In his aunt’s gardening notes, Albano found many scribbled pieces of paper containing ideas on what to plant next to what, what to use to fight insects, and hundreds of flower pictures. These images, and his memories, are the inspiration and heart of the new show.

Albano, who hasn’t painted in watercolor since college, says she first lays down color, then draws on it with a pen, then adds acrylic. Some pieces have a stained glass quality due to the tracery effect of the black pen.

She feels that this work marries her landscape painting with her illustration work.

(We’re going off on a bit of a tangent when talking about her illustrations, which include a mural in the Savoy Society on Liberty Street, and how, before she had kids, she was known for illustrating ladies’ toilets. at Pinkie’s. go anywhere without Sharpie.”)

Despite the stresses of homeschooling her sons during a pandemic, coping with her aunt and uncle’s estate, and becoming a part-time caregiver, Albano’s life seems chaotic but rewarding.

Most weeks, she takes the time to enter her studio – a small, cluttered room surrounded by the works of her children, her aunt and friends, found objects, art supplies, souvenirs and even an aquarium of Black Mollies that she got. from Starland’s tattoo shop after seeing them on the Buy-Nothing-Midtown Facebook site.

Being around Albano is both fun and energizing. She has a sharp wit and is very funny and self-deprecating. Just a good person. Make good art. And wanting to honor the life of his inspiring and beloved Aunt Loretta.

Stacie Jane Albano’s “In the Laurel Garden Neighborhood” Opening Champagne Reception is Thursday, April 7 from 5-8 p.m. and runs from April 7-April 30. (The title of her show derives from the boroughs of Long Island and honors the name Loretta – which means Laurel in Italian.) Follow her on Instagram or Facebook @staciejeanalbano

Briana R. Cross